James Harrison clears waivers, fate unsure
HOUSTON — While celebrating a 34-6 win over the Houston Texans, the Steelers included injured linebacker Ryan Shazier on a FaceTime locker-room video just like they did two weeks earlier after a win over the Baltimore Ravens.
This time, Shazier wasn’t the only veteran player in the team’s thoughts.
The game was the first without 39-year-old linebacker James Harrison, released Saturday to make room for tackle Marcus Gilbert on the active roster.
Don't panic: Release of James Harrison could just be temporary https://t.co/tntsqvZmBL
— Steelers Wire (@TheSteelersWire) December 23, 2017
Harrison had played only 40 snaps in five games, but was respected for his leadership and role in the locker room.
“We adjusted really well,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “Deebo was the guy helping us out along the way. When you lose that type of player, honestly, it (stinks). What he meant to us and how cool he was to be around and all that stuff. But it’s the NFL, and we see tough decisions every day.”
It’s possible the Steelers this week could re-sign Harrison, who cleared waivers Monday. Pouncey was asked if he expects that to happen.
“I think so,” he said. “Why not?”
Coach Mike Tomlin was noncommittal.
“I’m not speculating, guys,” Tomlin said when asked about Harrison’s future.
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) December 23, 2017
Harrison was released because the roster exemption for Gilbert, who was returning from a four-game suspension, was expiring.
“It’s just life in football,” Tomlin said. “Sometimes you’ve got to make tough decisions.”
Harrison’s departure makes quarterback Ben Roethlisberger the only player remaining from the team that won Super Bowl XL in Detroit.
“I’ve lost a lot of teammates along the way,” Roethlisberger said. “They keep retiring or whatever happens. We played together a long time. It’s hard to lose him.”